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A Few Unpleasant Thoughts Breaking Through

The Mets today finished their season with another year and another improvement, taking an 82-80 record in 2005 to a 97-65 record in 2006, gaining their first division title since 1988 in the process.

But yes, there were some bad things about this season. And since everyone has today and tomorrow marked off on their calendars as days to wax poetic about the Mets' wonderful season, I decided to provide a few sour notes.

These are my deepest and darkest fears, placed online only because of my pessimism. Be forewarned, though, most of these stats are taken out of context and therefore are far less meaningful than you'd think.

The Mets ended the year with a cold streak, epitomized by their 14-15 September, their only month of the season without a .500 winning percentage.

Billy Wagner's OPSagainst climbed from .494 in 2005 to .598 in 2006. His playoff ERA in 5 games is 7.71. His teams have lost all four series he has appeared in.

Chris Woodward hit .283/.337/.393 last year. He hit .214/.287/.309 this year... in 47 more at-bats.

Carlos Delgado hit .301/.399/.582 last year, hitting 41 doubles. This year? .295/.361/.548, with 30 doubles.

His sometime platoon partner Julio Franco knows a little bit about going downhill. Franco had no extra-base hits or RBI in August after having 8 XBH and 12 RBI over the previous three months.

Darren Oliver's ERA pre-All-Star Break? 2.15, with a 0.97 WHIP and .190 batting average against, allowing 5 home runs in 50.1 innings of work. Post-break, Oliver had a 5.58 ERA, a 1.37 WHIP, a .290 BAA and 8 home runs allowed in only 30.2 innings of work.

Last year, Cornelius Clifford Floyd hit .273/.358/.505 with 34 homers. This year, Corn has 11 homers and a .243/.323/.404 line, while missing a great deal of time due to injury.

Lastings Milledge doesn't know his place.

Shawn Green has hit .241 in 33 games since joining the Mets.

El Duque, who is the game one starter in this series, has started three games against the Dodgers this season. In those games, his ERA is 5.40, while Tom Glavine has a 4.63 ERA in two starts against the Dodgers this year.

Duaner Sanchez is hurt. So is Pedro Martinez. So is Victor Zambrano. So is Juan Padilla.

I could scare you with more stats, but it doesn't matter.

I could make a prediction that the Dodgers will use Hong-Chih Kuo and Eric Stults as their third and fourth starters and that both will throw perfect games en route to a 3-1 series victory over the Mets.

I could write that Derek Lowe has a 3.05 ERA in 17 career postseason games, against AL lineups most almost all of the time. I could write that Greg Maddux has a 1.93 career postseason ERA against the Mets in two starts.

But that's not important.

What's important is that the Boys of Flushing are going to war as exactly that, for better or for worse. What got us to October will determine whether we make it out alive.


I hope you all were watching the Jets' game today, because it was a doozy. Although I was not initially an Eric Mangini backer, mostly because of his 3rd round selection of this page's favorite punching bag, Anthony Schlegel, but also because of his lack of experience.

What Mangini understands, however, that Herm Edwards didn't, is that you have to play aggressively and take risks to beat teams with far superior on-field ability to yours.

I was rooting for Mangini and Co. to go for it on that fourth down in the red zone, if only because grabbing a field goal with a chance for seven was not going to help the Jets.

In the end, it would have, but that wasn't all that important. The Jets were seven-point dogs in this game, and the fact that they played well with an undefeated team and Super Bowl contender does mean a lot about them.

At 2-2, with two home losses albeit against good teams, it's hard to pencil the Jets in for a championship just yet. But it's not at all difficult to see this team finishing 9-7 or 10-6, possibly good for a Wild Card spot, barring any injuries to starting players on crazy lateral plays.


Broadway Blueshirt hockey starts on Thursday, with the Rangers having posted a 5-2 record this preseason. In their preseason finale at Boston, Jaromir Jagr and Brendan Shanahan scored their first goals of the year, with each getting an assist on the other's. This bodes pretty well for the Rangers power play.

Larry Brooks, the great hockey columnist at the New York Post, has the Rangers winning the Stanley Cup this season. Lofty goal, but I could see it happening.

SI and ESPN also have their NHL season previews on newsstands this week.

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